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Useful Tools To Build a DIY Camper Van

Getting the right tools is one of the first steps to converting a camper van. But which van build tools are the most essential that are used daily? Do I need to purchase every single tool, or are there tools I could borrow or rent instead?

This article reviews many of the tools we used to convert our DIY campervan. Some tools we used daily and consider essential, and others we used sparingly and didn’t find worth the cost.

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1. Power Drill

From drilling in screws to boring out holes, having a power drill is pretty self-explanatory.

I went to Home Depot and purchased the cheapest drill at the store, and it has provided me with more than enough power to use in every facet of our campervan conversion.

We drilled through hardwood, plastics, and even the van’s sheet metal frame. Our power drill performed like a champ!

DEWALT | Cordless Drill
$99.00

This basic drill is more than enough to complete your van conversion. Works on all wood materials and sheet metal.

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04/07/2024 11:52 pm GMT

2. Jig Saw

The jig saw’s ability to make curved cuts makes this tool indispensable during a van conversion. And with the right additional tools, a jig saw can make OKAY straight cuts, if needed.

Jig Saw

A versatile tool that is used in all phases of a camper van conversion. Excellent for cutting through wood, metal, and plastic sheets. Be sure to pick up a set of blade saws.

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We used our jig saw to cut through rigid foam board insulation, plywood, butcher block hardwood, and even cut through long sections of our van’s sheet metal frame to install our rear windows.

Having a jig saw is a campervan conversion requirement.

3. Framing Square

Drawing and cutting straight lines is crucial for a solid van conversion. We used our framing square daily to create straight lines and accurate 90-degree angles daily.

Framing Square (16" x 24")

A framing square was one of our most used tools throughout our van conversion. Useful for drawing straight lines, making exact measurements, and creating right angles.

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Used as a straight guide, you can pair the framing square with a jigsaw to make acceptable straight cuts.

4. Long Clamps

These long clamps were indispensable when fabricating our interior furniture.

Great For Cabinetry
Quick-Adjust 36-Inch Steel Bar Clamps
$29.11 ($14.56 / Count)

These long clamps are great when building overhead cabinets, kitchen counters, and the bed frame. They keep wood in place while the wood glue dries.

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04/07/2024 02:06 pm GMT

When piecing together our counter frame and upper cabinets, we often used wood glue to join two pieces of plywood initially. So, these clamps were crucial to holding these pieces of wood together while the glue dried.

5. Table Saw

We initially balked at purchasing a table saw during the 1st half of our van build and instead used our jigsaw to cut straight edges. But we bought a table saw for the 2nd half of our van build and loved it. Our straight-edge cuts were better and took less time.

DEWALT | Table Saw
$371.33

An indispensable tool that helps you make long, straight cuts. Especially useful for cabinetry.

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04/08/2024 12:23 am GMT

We regret not using this tool right from the start of our van conversion.

Using this power tool has a bit of a learning curve, and it’s dangerous if misused. But once you’re proficient, you can cut accurate, straight lines all day.

6. Electric Sander

The electric sander is an affordable tool to sand down wood quickly. But generic sandpaper sheets and some elbow grease work just as well, especially if you’ll paint your wood afterward.

B&D | Orbital Sander

Useful in sanding all types of wood surfaces, including plywood, 2x4 posts, and cedar planks. Pair with 80 & 120 grit sandpaper and a filtered mask.

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7. Pocket Hole Jig

Creates strong 90-degree wood joints when screwing together two pieces of wood. The Pocket Hole Jig was especially useful when fabricating our drawers, upper cabinets, and counters.

Kreg | Pocket Hole Jig

A woodworking must-have for making strong, resilient wood joints. Especially useful for use in camper vans as the vibration caused when driving places additional stress on wood joints. Easy and quick to use for beginners.

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This tool is easy to use and does the work quickly. Not necessary, however, as you can achieve a similar result with straight-in screws and wood glue.

The jig is also expensive for what you get.

8. Drawer Slide Jig

The Kreg Tool Drawer Slide Jig is a beneficial tool to correctly align your drawer slides so that your drawers can smoothly attach to the counters.

Assembling drawers and counters is tricky because measurements have to be extremely precise. The drawer slide jig helps simplify fabrication, especially for novice woodworkers like ourselves.

Kreg | Drawer Slide Jig
$32.00

Makes installing drawer slides a breeze. Keeps slides level, ensuring drawers easily slide in an out.

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04/08/2024 12:41 am GMT

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our list of van build tools. Please let us know in the comments section below if you feel we left out any must-have tools.

For more build info, head over to our camper van conversion guide.

Happy building!

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